As the longer essays and interviews introduced in the catalogue show, with authors such as Drew Hayden Taylor, Rebecca Roanhorse and William Lempert, among others, the main concern is the occupation of the future space offered by science fiction. With its speculative experiments by authors from Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) to Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018) there was always a new viewpoint to explore. The many other works in the exhibition, which cannot all be mentioned here in detail, all deal with these questions of how the future can be appropriated and changed. Indigenous artists organise their own Comic Con, film fests, festivals or generally want to be heard as players in the entertainment industry, which has so far been dominated by Western media. Many lovers of science fiction can be found here who want to find a way into these worlds, both physically and intellectually. We live in the age of representation, in which it is assumed that through the proper presence of an identity, the reality can be positively influenced. It is precisely this ideal that the artists gathered in the exhibition follow. The example of the Zapatista artists‘ group implements this idea with a strong symbol, the space ark and their free settlements, which of course simultaneously advertises their political struggle in the present.
After more exciting sections of the exhibition with video works by the Nigerian artist Wilfred Ukpong and the collective Superflux or the project Space Refugee by Halil Altindere, which presents the Syrian cosmonaut Muhammed Ahmed Faris, the latter part of the exhibition focusses on the different media that can be used for representing indigenous spaces of the future.
Halil Altindere, Space Refugee. Installation view Science Fiction(s). If There Were a Tomorrow, Weltmuseum, foto: Christian Drobe
This includes, among other things, the virtual world of Tyson Mowarin, in which the land of the Aborigines is made accessible digitally. The final room also features a large diorama by Toronto-based artist Ekow Nimako, Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE, a black city created from the 2019 work Building Black: Civilizations. Nimako used Lego bricks to design a large, futuristic city inspired by the capital of medieval Ghana. The impressive layout of the concentric city, with towers, rooftops and endless detail, has a sculptural quality and represents a free narrative of black cultures. As can be observed with many artists in the exhibition (and in contemporary art in general), there is a strong tendency to build small self-contained worlds, dioramas, models, or, as the exhibition shows, even manned space arks. In this way, utopian spaces and landscapes are created in the physical sense.
Ekow Nimako @ekownimako, Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE. Installation view Science Fiction(s). If There Were a Tomorrow, Weltmuseum Wien. foto: Christian Drobe.
In Nimako’s case, the black colour of the Lego bricks creates a strong statement, as it embodies a symbol for a thriving, futuristic community in Africa. Yet, the work is also somewhat reminiscent of designs from Star Wars, such as the Star Destroyers of the Empire or the Death Star (the artist has previously created an adaptation of Darth Vader with Lego). This, of course, sounds less utopian, and is due to Nimako’s futuristic aesthetic. It is not intentional, but it raises the question of how these hybrids of pop culture overlap and how the dystopian tendencies of the present can be overcome and how quickly the dreamed utopia of an indigenous future could turn negative again. At any rate, Nimako’s work leaves the visitor slightly shivering at the end of the exhibition, even though the work is a prime example of Afrofuturism, a movement that has been gaining traction for a longer time now and which, parallel to Indigenous Futurism, promotes a stronger representation in science fiction and other utopian ideas. The film Black Panther and its depiction of the city of Wakanda are only the tip of the iceberg of a major preoccupation with their own future. This trend has also radiated to other cultural circles, such as Roma Futurism, represented by the Romea Kale Panthera (the Black Roma Panthers), and Hungarofuturism, which is presented as a liberation movement. Ultimately, the added value of these new futurisms lies in this transformative power that would design forms of the future.
One of the basic assumptions of science fiction is that it always reflects the time in which it was created, so in the case of Star Trek, for example, the Cold War (and in design the series was also influenced by Mid Century Modernism, as a new study shows). Today’s interest in huge aliens, space operas, robots or dark cyberpunk worlds has good reasons. Artists and regular citizens alike are increasingly under the impression that, despite vehement protests and political actions, hardly any changes are taking place in society. Rather, all the detrimental side effects of capitalism seem to continue unabated, be it in environmental destruction or corruption or in rising populism. Many speak of an end of utopias since the 1970s, by which is meant that after that point in history, revolutionary potential in society has fizzled out. One can argue about that. The artists gathered at the Weltmuseum express with their works that the future can be positively occupied and shaped, from the perspective of very different ethnicities and groups and with very different approaches and materials. It remains to be seen, if this movement will see further success or remains just a fantasy of a revolution. This pluralism of the future is applied in the well-curated exhibition as a standard to which not only science fiction enthusiasts should orient themselves.
A visit to the exhibition at the Weltmuseum is possible until January 2024 and is absolutely recommended.
 Byrne-Smith, Dan (ed.) (2020): Science fiction. London, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Whitechapel Gallery; The MIT Press (Documents of contemporary art); Barikin, Amelia; Bertoli, Damiano; Bliss, Lauren; Brophy, Philip; Butler, Rex; Clemens, Justin et al. (2013): Making worlds. Art and science fiction. Victoria: Surpllus.
 Spiers, Miriam C. Brown (2021): Encountering the sovereign other. Indigenous science fiction. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press (American Indian studies series).
 Asiimwe, Stella; Augustat, Claudia; Fine, Jonathan (eds.) (2023): Science Fiction(s). If there were a tomorrow. Wien: Weltmuseum Wien, p. 30.
 McLennan, Bill; Duffek, Karen (2000). The Transforming Image: Painted Arts of the Northwest Coast First Nations. UBC Press.
 Chavkin, Dan (2021): Star Trek. How Midcentury Modernism Shaped Our View of the Future. La Vergne: Weldon Owen.